Pekka Juhani Nygård
July 24, 1941
|Alma mater||University of North Dakota|
|Known for||Founding Nygård|
|Net worth||US$900 million (2020)|
|Partner(s)||Anna Nicole Smith (1998–2001)|
Peter J. Nygård[a] (né Pekka Juhani Nygård; born July 24, 1941) is a Finnish-Canadian former fashion executive. He founded Nygård International, a company that made women's apparel, in 1967. In 2020, Nygård was arrested on sex trafficking, rape, and racketeering charges, and resigned as chairman.
Nygård was born on July 24, 1941, in Helsinki, Finland, to parents who parents who immigrated to Deloraine, Manitoba, Canada in 1952. In 1964, he graduated from the University of North Dakota with a business degree.
Nygård apparel manufacturing company was founded in 1967 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Its Canadian headquarters was located on King Street in Toronto, with its world headquarters in Times Square, New York. Nygård's fashion concept retail store opened in Times Square in Manhattan on Friday, November 6, 2009.
On February 25, 2020, Nygård resigned as chairman of Nygård International, after its headquarters was raided by the FBI because of sex trafficking allegations against him. The company filed for Chapter 15 Bankruptcy in New York on March 18, 2020 and a Manitoba judge ordered a group of Nygård companies into receivership on March 19, 2020. On April 30, 2020, a Canadian judge gave the green light to an accounting firm to sell and liquidate part of the business empire.
2020 sex trafficking arrest and lawsuits
On November 24, 2019, Bahamas police began investigating six allegations of rape made against Nygård. All the alleged victims were under 16. On January 27, 2020, Nygård faced two separate lawsuits after being accused of sexual assault. On February 13, 2020, 10 women filed a class action against Nygård in New York, alleging that he had raped them at his Bahamas residence. They also alleged he maintained a sex-trafficking ring. Eight of the alleged victims were underaged. On February 25, 2020, the New York headquarters of Nygård International were raided by the FBI and NYPD, in connection with sex trafficking claims. This led to Nygård stepping down from the company. On April 22, 2020, 36 new women joined a sex assault suit that was filed in February 2020. On August 17, 2020, Nygård was sued by two of his sons on accusations of directing a known sex worker said to be "his girlfriend" to rape them. On December 15, 2020 it was reported that Instagram model Suelyn Medeiros and Warren & Baram Management LLC were named as alleged co-conspirators in Peter Nygård's alleged sex trafficking scheme in 2 separate lawsuits. On December 15, 2020, Nygård was arrested in Winnipeg for extradition to the US to face charges of sex trafficking by the US attorney's office in Manhattan. On February 5, 2021, Nygård was denied bail and faced extradition to the US. On March 26, 2021 Nygård was denied bail for a second time.
On December 17, 2020, two days after Nygård's arrest, it was reported that Discovery+ was releasing a series about Peter Nygård's life entitled Unseamly: The Investigation of Peter Nygård. The documentary aired in February 2021, and featured interviews with journalists, attorneys, family members and former employees of Nygård.
- In 1978, Nygård's takeover of a sportswear designer's business in New York City led to a 12-year legal battle in New York federal court.
- In 1980, the Free Press wrote that Winnipeg authorities charged Nygård with the rape of an 18-year-old girl. Later those charges were stayed because the girl refused to testify. It was later claimed in a lawsuit that Nygård used funds from his companies to pay her off.
- Nygård settled sexual harassment complaints by three former employees in Manitoba in the late 1990s.
- In 1999, Nygård sued Linda Lampenius for defamation concerning her comments about Nygård's parties with naked women. The case continued until 2001 when Lampenius states she ran out of funds and had to settle, which consisted of publishing an apology in the newspaper Ilta-Sanomat.
- In 2003, Nygård was sued in Florida by an American couple who claimed he deceived them into accepting jobs as managers of his Bahamas estate. The case was settled in 2007.
- In 2005, after Finnish newspaper Iltalehti published an article about sex parties at Nygård's mansion, even featuring a short interview with Jessica Alba where she had to leave a party at the Nygård Cay mansion (she was there filming Into the Blue) because of the debauchery with young women going on, Nygård sued the parent company of the paper Alma Media for slander in Los Angeles. Nygård lost the case.
- In 2006, Canadian tax authorities claimed Nygård underreported $15 million in taxes. Nygård argued that he severed residential ties with Canada in 1975; he was ultimately subject to taxes on an unreported $2 million.
- In 2007, a dispute escalated into a battle royal encompassing no fewer than 16 legal actions between Nygård and Louis Bacon and their associates, in which both sides are claiming damages in the tens of millions of dollars and lobbing allegations of activities that include vandalism, bribery, insider trading, arson, murder, destruction of the fragile seabed, and having a close association with the Ku Klux Klan.
- In 2008, Nygård was sued in Los Angeles Superior Court by a former girlfriend for slamming a door on her hand. Nygård quickly settled the lawsuit.
- In 2012, Nygård launched a lawsuit against the CBC regarding copyright issues about private videos taken at his residence, which were then used in an April 2010 documentary. He had also launched a copyright complaint with the US District Court in New York and a lawsuit in Manitoba to prevent the piece from airing. He had previously sued two former employees for releasing confidential information and his lawyer claimed CBC harassed many of the employees. Nygård launched a civil suit against his neighbor and the Lyford Cay Property Owners Association alleging they conspired with the CBC to damage his reputation; he also filed a private criminal prosecution against three CBC journalists accusing them of conspiring to discredit him and his clothing empire.
- In 2015 and 2017, Nygård was looked at by FBI over claims of sex trafficking. He was also investigated by the United States Department of Homeland Security for 9 months in 2016.
- The Paradise Papers showed that Nygård was a shareholder of an offshore company in the Cayman Islands.
- In 2018, Nygård Cay was seized by the Supreme Court of the Bahamas as part of a legal battle surrounding Nygård's efforts to dredge the sea floor around the estate.
- In 2019, a warrant was issued after Nygård failed to appear in court multiple times for a sentencing hearing related to two contempt of court convictions in the Bahamas.
- In September 2019, the New York Times was caught up in the feud between Nygård and Louis Bacon. The suit claims that the reporters for the paper "tried to steer the individuals to provide information to fit a story" and that reporters wanted to "bring down" Nygård.
- On November 15, 2019, a judge in the Bahamas sentenced Nygård to 90 days in prison and fined him $150,000 after finding he breached a court order prohibiting the disclosure of emails that were stolen from a non-profit group.
Feud with Louis Bacon
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In 2005, Nygård attempted to solve a parking overflow problem at Nygård Cay by laying down a 15-by-20-foot concrete slab on Louis Bacon's property. Bacon responded to this, suing Nygård and obtaining a court injunction to remove it. Two years later in 2007, Bacon installed industrial-grade speakers at the edge of his property and pointed them at Nygård's house at night due to Bacon's complaints of noise at Nygård's house. In summer 2010, Bacon's house was raided by 11 Bahamian police officers, leading to the confiscation of the speakers, Bacon claimed it was the work of Nygård, a claim he denied. It has been said Nygård used fake news sites and YouTube videos to smear Bacon as a person who ran an international drug-smuggling operation, was a member of the KKK, having been charged with insider trading, and being involved in murdering the Point House caretaker, Dan Tuckfield, after commissioning him to set the fire at Nygård Cay. (Tuckfield actually died of a heart attack.) In January 2015, Bacon filed a defamation lawsuit against Nygård over these claims. In January 2021, it was reported that Savvy Media Holdings acquired the rights to a couple of books relating to Nygård's feud with Louis Bacon, to make a feature film. Justin Lader was chosen to write the film.
In 1984 he purchased a beach bungalow for $1.76 million and in 1987 in built a 14,000-square-metre (150,000 sq ft) compound at Lyford Cay in the Bahamas. On April 14, 2010, Nygård announced he was planning a $50-million renovation of Nygård Cay, which would take two years to complete and repair the damage and employ 200 construction workers. But a letter from the Bahamian prime minister's office rejected his construction application, citing the improper expansion of his property through intentional accretion of land over the seabed. On September 28, 2018, Nygård Cay was seized by the Supreme Court of the Bahamas as part of a legal battle surrounding Nygård’s efforts to dredge the sea floor around the estate. In 2021 the property is in a general state of disrepair.
Nygård has ten children with eight women. Nygård has supported the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Nygård has been a longtime sponsor of amateur sports in the Bahamas. In June 2010, he was the main sponsor of Amateur Boxing Federation of the Bahamas team for Continental Elite Boxing Championships invitation-only event in Quito, Ecuador.
On December 15, 2020, Nygård was arrested in Winnipeg, Canada, under the Extradition Act. He currently resides in jail awaiting extradition proceedings, and a potential extradition to the U.S.
In 2002, Deloraine, Manitoba where Nygård grew up unveiled a commemorative plaque and named a park in his honour. In May 2020, the park’s name was changed to Prairie Sentinels Park, after Nygård was arrested under charges of sex trafficking and rape.
- Finnish pronunciation: [ˈnyːˌɡoːrd]
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